Agriculture Value Chain, Food Supply and Distribution

  • 15 June 2020
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  •  news

This discussion zooms in on the government’s attempt to centralise food handouts and unpacks the logistic challenges of these projects spreading goodwill. The session is anchored by Dr John Purchase and panel members include Neil de Klerk 'Net 'n Druppel' Project, Executive Head: Marketing & Communication; Barnie de Klerk TWK Vambuka Trust, Chief Executive Manager: Grain; Johan Le Grange Jnr Senwes Food Umbrella Project, Project Manager; Rene Roux Helpende Hand, Deputy CEO: Communications; Lydia and George Jacobs NGO - Rapha Holistic Divine Clinic, Pastoral Counselors; LJ Grober Food ATM, Professor at NWU Mechanical Engineering and Masego Mekgwe Social Development, North West Province, HOD.

The panellists participating in this discussion all have a vested interest in trying to see how hunger relief can be provided to communities in needs. The conversation aims to try and ascertain how big the problem is and to come up with different solutions to help alleviate hunger surges in our communities. Niel de Klerk starts of by talking about awareness and understanding the extent of the problems that impair food security in the country. “If we can create awareness, everyone can donate a drop and eventually we can fill up the whole bucket.”

Barnie de Klerk tells viewers of the work that they do in partnership with the Vumbuka Trust to assist with food shortages in the areas wherein TWK operates. He provides an explanation of how their donating structures operate and the different ways in which producers and businesses can contribute to tackling the problem of hunger in disadvantaged communities. He highlights the problem of food shortages and laments that many people in those areas have no food to eat and it is through these kind of goodwill initiatives that they can get assistance.

Johan Le Grange Jnr expands on the Value Chain Food Umbrella. He explains, from a Senwes perspectives what the objectives of the initiative are. “The pandemic is a worldwide problem. We have a responsibility to assist with food security and hunger alleviation in our communities.” He explains in detail the process of donations that will begin with the primary producer, through the chain and end up at the communities in need. Johan stresses the importance of transparency in this process so farmers can see where their contributions will make a difference.

Rene Roux digs into the legalities around the lockdown regulations and how they affect goodwill projects. She speaks on the effect of the lockdown, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa, on food security in poor communities. She laments the staggering rise in food shortages among poor people since the onset of the lockdown. The closing down of schools, which effected the feeding schemes also contributed in the spike in numbers of people who need to be provided for. “Food is not politics and politics is not food. We are doing this to ensure that people have food to eat, not to gain political favour.”

Lydia and George Jacobs provide perspective on how big the need for food is and they demystify perspectives that suggest that it is only the poorest of the poor that experience shortages in nutrition. Speaking from a Christian perspective, she explains that more than just providing food, these initiatives are aimed at making people feel that there is a larger community that is there for them and willing to help.

Prof LG Grobler gives a background and expands on the distribution methods of the food distribution program run by the North West University for the past three years. He provides interesting stats on worldwide hunger strife. “As we speak today, more people are dying from hunger worldwide than they are dying from Covid-19.”

The panelists agree that tackling the hunger problem requires collaboration as it is only through collaborative effort that situations like this can be combated. Johan Le Grange speaks positively on the support that the Food Umbrella has received since its inception and in terms of numbers, gives viewers an idea of amount of pledges that have been received thus far. “People are hungry now and they need to be feed right now.”

Senwes Group Chief Executive Francois Strydom provides the last word on the discussion by affirming the efforts of each of the panelists in the fight against world hunger. “This is an example of how society can work effectively when everybody, at his or her level operates and coordinates. This is a huge opportunity to reset our communities, show what grit we are made of and how we can effect positive change.”

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